Archive | January 2018

Believe and see — a Psalm of Faith

“I believe I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be strong, and may your heart be stout; wait on the LORD.”

Psalm 27: 13-14

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Today. This week. This month. Life hasn’t settled into a rhythm here as I would have wished for in a new year. We’re dealing with multiple health complications on the home front that keep turning things upside down. Here’s a peek inside.

This day for me —  such  a roller coaster of emotions and busyness. Left home bright and early after feeding the fire, three people and three cats. Then time with my lovely friends, our brief  15 minutes together before we start our homeschool community day.  Our group includes several immune compromised members. Grief and joy and faith all profoundly concentrated in one room. What would I DO without these ladies with whom I laugh, love, and unashamedly bawl my eyes out?

My classroom is the prayer room this year. Holy ground.

While I prepare, the children come bouncing in.

Lovely little one with shining eyes, not knowing that daddy is stage 4 cancer. OH, MY! The board is full today, tutor.

SO much to learn.  YES! And you are SO smart! (and please, Lord, let her daddy live to revel in his smart, beautiful child.)

If only those walls could speak.  Another of my mommas is holed up alone at home because her body just cannot handle even ONE more toxin. I haven’t seen her all year. (I get to love on her sweet little son, an only treasure like my girl.)  We laughed, loved, and learned together today.

My heart saw his daddy twisting the doorknob with his shirt-tail to enter and exit this morning. I get it. GERMS. He cannot bring one of those evil creatures home to his frail young wife. Sound familiar, caregiver?

There’s not a minute to waste as now the middle school kids need my help in their classroom, my daughter’s class.  So, I’m not prepared for the lunch-time call. Funeral tomorrow. Can you be there?

Time stops for no one!  I scramble to rearrange and make the schedule work. Another victim of stage 4 cancer. I have to make time to mourn with God’s people and celebrate heaven, too.

Then back to tea and scones, homemade strawberry jam and cream. Laughter at  the middle school boys like bulls in a china shop drinking tea because they completed reading The Secret Garden. Who knew boys could enjoy this? Fake British accents. Moments to savor.

Not a moment of quiet on our way home, either. Through the downpour,  Mr. Roy G Biv appeared.

We could only see one end of his fabulous coat of many colors. For twenty minutes, my daughter’s happy chatter sparkled with sprinkles of “LOOK! Look at that rainbow.” Then the whole marvelous bow burst through the dark, gloomy clouds.

The Psalms alternate like that rainbow with only one glorious hint showing  in a darkened sky. Why? Why are you downcast, my soul? Hope in God.

Then a burst of dazzling praise! There is no God like you. All other gods are useless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

My 2018 bullet journal is headed with Psalm 27:13-14 from the top of this post. Underneath it, I’m adding Mark 9:23-24 from last week’s sermon text.

“Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to hm who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, LORD, I believe. Help my unbelief!”

 

As the pastor taught last week, the context of this statement of Jesus was a noisy disagreement between His disciples and religious teachers of that day. Caught in the middle of this doctrinal dispute a brokenhearted father wanted just ONE thing. Healing for his son.

Jesus shuts down the dispute, and turns a listening ear to the words of the needy father. He asks a question. The father’s response is a desperate cry for help. … “But IF You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus responds, “IF you can believe…”

 Jesus, I’m not sure I can believe “good enough”, said this ordinary, truthful man. So, please, help me believe. The story is about true faith, faithless, blind religious arrogance, compassion, and utterly about Jesus and His divine power.

When I think about what actually happened in Israel that day, it takes my breath away. Instantaneous relief from pain, fear, shame, and torture — what a breath of heaven on a broken family!

But His disciples were puzzled. Why couldn’t we heal his son, Jesus? You gave us power to heal before. “This kind cannot come out except by prayer and fasting,” Jesus responded.

Yet Jesus had simply spoken His words and commanded healing. No eloquent prayer. His powerful Word was enough.

In the beginning was the WORD. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. All things were made by Him. Without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and this life was the light of men. (John 1… )

This ties in so very beautifully with my Psalm of faith for this year. What will His goodness look like played out in my life? I have no idea, really, except for that beauty that breaks through the clouds. My security is all wrapped up in the Father’s love for me, His daughter.

Will He speak His Word and all pain and sorrow instantly be banished from my life? I’m fairly certain that’s not what the whole counsel of His Word actually promises. In fact, trials and tribulations are one of Jesus’ promises to His disciples. Reality check!

Strength and joy and provisions for each day, please, dear LORD, along with faith to face each new day without fear …

Wisdom to choose the right path and not to quench His Spirit. May I have compassion, like Jesus, that never runs dry. On my own, my well runs dry quickly.

Grant me great courage, Jesus, like sweet Jess, to face the daily pain I see and say, I will believe. I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Her view of the land of the living is now infinitely better than mine, for she has reached the Shining City.

Thanks for taking a moment to stop and reflect with me. Some of you have shared your stories with me. I treasure that. Believe with me. Take courage, dear heart!

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Psalm 91 — A hiding place for caregivers

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Is it okay to chat a little? I’ve found myself blessed with an additional morning hour due to fog and icy conditions. Everything’s blanketed in white and gray outside my window.

Ladies, I haven’t forgotten about you.

You’re caregivers. You’re busy wearing many hats. You may be caring for a parent, another relative, or like me, your spouse.

On these extra frigid winter mornings or any day that life gets overwhelming, you just want to hide in a corner, or never emerge from your warm cocoon of blankets. Your own personal retreat. Hey, even just a few minutes of personal space, right?

My daughter is starting to get that — “I see you need some space, Mom.”  (Yeah, like my own personal “time-out” depending on the day.)

Have you ever read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom? If not, go grab a copy NOW for winter reading. Once you get past the first few chapters, I think you’ll be hooked.

So, I played hookie from writing this blog last Sunday. My daughter and I went next door to our neighbor’s and watched The Hiding Place with her. (Do read the book first.)

Corrie and Betsy, sisters, best friends, and partners in crime — the crime of saving Jews from the death camps. One sister, Corrie, would survive Ravensbrook concentration camp. The other did not. Corrie Ten Boom tells her story.

One particular scene stands out. Betsy is giving thanks for the fleas/lice that share their bunkhouse and beds. Corrie is feeling anything but thankful.

A short while into their stay in “hotel Ravensbrook”,  they discover the cruel guards avoid their bunkhouse? Why? Well, the fleas. Their precious New Testament stays hidden. They are able to have little Bible studies with their bunkmates without getting caught. Light in the darkest of places! A Hiding Place for themselves and others.

“Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling, there shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your tent;

For He shall give His angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”  Psalm 91:9-12

How is the Most High a refuge and dwelling especially for caregivers?

  • He cares for YOU. “Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.” I Peter 5:7  When you’re pouring out your life for another, it’s tempting to feel neglected and alone. You are not. I am not alone. God’s ear is always open to the cries of the humble.

  • Christ KNOWS all about you. “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Nothing is hidden from His eyes. (That’s a comfort only if you are not hiding from God and His truth.) My loved one is the most complex patient his doctor has seen in 20 some years of practice. That’s not comforting. Knowing God knows ALL is.

  • NOTHING. Not. One. Thing. “Can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” You can’t be hidden from His face. It’s not possible. Romans 8:31-39

  • It’s okay to ask to be hidden by Him. I’ve asked for shelter and protection many times. “Keep me as the apple of Your eye. Hide me in the shelter of your wings.”  “Keep me from the strife of tongues.” (Oh, dear! That’s another post for another day. — Those tongues can be well-meaning, misinformed, and unintentionally malicious, even in Christ’s body. The Psalmist has a bit to say about that, too.)

Refuge. Shelter. A Hiding Place.  No, not like the ostrich — burying her head in the sand to hide from reality. But like the tiny chick, I’m so small.  I need the shelter of strong, powerful wings.

May He be your Refuge and Hiding Place this week!